Coronavirus updates: CDC urges Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving

narvikk/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR, EMILY SHAPIRO, ERIN SCHUMAKER, IVAN PEREIRA, JON HAWORTH and MEREDITH DELISO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — A novel coronavirus pandemic has now killed more than 1.3 million people worldwide.

Over 56.4 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some national governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their outbreaks. The criteria for diagnosis — through clinical means or a lab test — has also varied from country to country.

The United States is the worst-affected nation, with more than 11.5 million diagnosed cases and at least 250,898 deaths.

Nearly 200 vaccine candidates for COVID-19 are being tracked by the World Health Organization, at least 10 of which are in crucial phase three studies. Of those 10 potential vaccines in late-stage trials, there are currently five that will be available in the United States if approved.

Here’s how the news developed Thursday. All times Eastern:

Nov 19, 10:42 pm
Pentagon policy chief tests positive for COVID after meeting Lithuanian defense minister

The Pentagon’s top policy chief, Anthony Tata, has tested positive for COVID-19 after his Monday meeting with Lithuania’s defense minister, Raimundas Karoblis.

On Thursday, the Lithuanian embassy informed the Pentagon that the minister had tested positive for the virus.

During his visit to the Pentagon, Karoblis met with multiple senior leaders, including acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller, the secretaries of the Army and Air Force and the secretary of the Navy. All have tested negative since their meetings. Tata is now self-isolating.

Nov 19, 10:14 pm
51 states and territories in upward trajectory of new cases: HHS

There are 51 states and territories in an upward trajectory of new COVID-19 cases, according to an internal Health and Human Services memo obtained by ABC News Thursday night.
 
Two jurisdictions are at a plateau, and one is going down, the memo said.

There were 1,151,468 new cases confirmed during the period of Nov. 12 to 18 — a 35.4% increase from the previous seven-day period. There were 8,601 deaths, up 8.3% over the previous week.

The national test-positivity rate increased to 11.1% from 9.6% in week-to-week comparisons.

Across the country, 29% of hospitals have more than 80% of their ICU beds filled. That number was 17%-18% during the summertime peak.
 
Iowa, Indiana, Maryland and Pennsylvania in particular are seeing high rates of hospitalizations. In Ohio, hospitalizations could quadruple by Christmas at the current rate of growth, the memo said.

Nov 19, 9:02 pm
COVID-19 tests, cases, hospitalizations break records in US

Daily COVID-19 tests, cases and current hospitalizations in the U.S. all set new records on Thursday, based on tallies by The COVID Tracking Project.

There were 1,971 reported deaths — the highest since May 7. North and South Dakota are reporting the highest totals of fatalities per capita in the U.S., according to the data.

States reported 1.8 million daily tests and 182,832 new cases, and 80,698 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, according to the tracker.

Thirteen states, primarily in the Midwest, saw more than 1,000 cases per million people, it said.

“This wave of cases arrives in a moment when many hospital systems across the country are already inundated with COVID-19 patients and are warning of staff shortages,” the COVID Tracking Project said in its weekly report

There aren’t any indications that case numbers have peaked either, it said.

States reported 8,461 deaths this week, the highest weekly death count since May, the tracker said.

“The record levels of hospitalizations we’re already seeing will almost certainly be followed by a spike in the reported fatalities,” it said.

Nov 19, 8:36 pm
Visitors to Hawaii can show negative COVID-19 test to avoid quarantine

People planning to visit Hawaii soon can show proof of a negative COVID-19 test to bypass the state’s mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige announced that beginning Tuesday, visitors to the state must have a negative COVID-19 test in hand from “a trusted testing partner” to avoid the quarantine.

If test results are not available before boarding the final leg of the trip, then the traveler must quarantine, he said.

The policy applies to both international and domestic flights.

ABC News’ Marilyn Heck contributed to this report.

Nov 19, 6:28 pm
FDA authorizes drug combination for treatment of COVID-19

The FDA issued an emergency use authorization for a drug combination to treat COVID-19.

The drugs are Eli Lilly’s baricitinib and Gilead’s remdesivir, the latter of which was given to President Donald Trump as part of his coronavirus treatment.

The authorization is only for hospitalized adults and children 2 years of age or older who need help breathing.

Baricitinib, which is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, is not authorized as a stand-alone treatment for COVID-19. It must be used in combination with remdesivir.

A Phase 3 study found that when used with remdesivir, the combination helped hospitalized patients recover faster than remdesivir alone, cutting the median time to recovery by about one day.

ABC News’ Sony Salzman contributed to this report

Nov 19, 9:01 pm
California issues nightly curfew for most of state

Most of California will be under a nightly curfew with a new stay-at-home order issued Thursday by Gov. Gavin Newsom, as the state experiences a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases.

Starting Saturday, counties labeled as having widespread risk will be under the order for four weeks. From 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., nonessential activities and gatherings with members outside of the household are banned.
 
The order currently affects nearly 95% of the state’s population.

Nov 19, 4:50 pm
UNICEF warns of ‘lost generation’ after pandemic

In a new report ahead of World Children’s Day, UNICEF warned the pandemic may create a “lost generation.”

Calling the situation “increasingly alarming,” UNICEF wrote about the impact on children around the world, including disruptions to health care, nutrition, child protection and education. School closures at their peak have affected 90% of the world’s students.

“The impact of the pandemic will affect children’s lives for years to come, even if a breakthrough vaccine becomes available soon,” the report said. “How the world responds now to the myriad risks that the pandemic poses to children and adolescents will determine their future. Unless the global community urgently changes priorities, the potential of this generation of young people may well be lost.”

UNICEF warned, “Around 2 million additional child deaths under age 5 and 200,000 additional stillbirths could occur over a 12-month period with worst-case interruptions to services and rising malnutrition.”

ABC News’ Brian Hartman and Kirit Radia contributed to this report.

Nov 19, 4:17 pm
Louisiana in ‘3rd surge’ as positivity rate climbs

Louisiana, where the positivity rate has climbed to 7.5%, is in the midst of “the third surge of this pandemic,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said.

Including 15 deaths on Thursday, the state’s death toll has climbed to 6,199.

Hospitalizations in the state jumped to 929, an increase that’s “very concerning,” the governor added. “It’s increasing at a rate we just can’t sustain over time.”

Edwards also warned residents to avoid traditional Thanksgiving gatherings.

“If you’re planning on a Thanksgiving that looks like previous Thanksgivings, where you bring extended family, friends around a common dinner table, you’re making a mistake,” he said.

ABC News’ Rachel Katz contributed to this report.

Nov 19, 3:44 pm
New Hampshire governor issues statewide mask mandate

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu issued a statewide mask mandate that will go into effect Friday.

“In looking at the data, it is clear that a statewide mask mandate is in the best interest of our citizens,” Sununu tweeted. “Our hospitalization rate is increasing. We have always said that we cannot let our health care system get overrun, and instituting this mandate will help.”

“To those who are opposed to this — I want to make something very clear: Instituting this mask mandate today will allow us to keep our economy open and helps ensure our health care system has the capacity and workforce it needs in the coming weeks,” he continued. “If you don’t wear a mask into a store and are asymptomatically spreading COVID, you risk shutting down that business for weeks, you risk unknowingly infecting someone with severe health issues or someone who works on a longterm care facility.”

Everyone over 5 years old must follow the mandate.

Nov 19, 2:59 pm
National Zoo, Smithsonian museums to close

The National Zoo and all Smithsonian museums will close on Nov. 23 due to rising cases in the Washington, D.C., area and across the country, the Smithsonian said.

“Due to the changing nature of the situation, we are not announcing a reopening date at this time,” the Smithsonian said.

The pandemic had shuttered Smithsonian museums from March 14 through mid-September. They reopened gradually with timed-entry tickets.

Nov 19, 2:25 pm
US records deadliest day in over 6 months

Hours after the U.S. crossed the milestone of 250,000 deaths, states reported another 1,869 American lives lost on Wednesday — the deadliest day in more than six months, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

Daily fatalities have risen by 76% in the last month, averaging more than 1,200 daily.

Nearly 80,000 are hospitalized across the U.S. — about 20,000 more than during peaks in April and July.

ABC News’ Arielle Mitropoulos Brian Hartman, Soorin Kim and Ben Bell contributed to this report.

Nov 19, 12:33 pm
One person dying of COVID-19 every 17 seconds in Europe

More than 29,000 people in Europe died last week of COVID-19, equalling one about every 17 seconds, said Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, the World Health Organization’s regional director for the continent.

Some intensive care units in Switzerland are at full capacity, he said, while in France, intensive care wards have been at over 95% capacity for 10 days.

“Every time we choose to follow guidance, stop the spread of misinformation or address denial, we contribute to preventing lives lost,” Kluge said. “This is avoidable.”

ABC News’ Christine Theodorou contributed to this report.


Nov 19, 12:06 pm
CDC predicts at least 276,000 Americans dead by Dec. 12

The CDC predicts that between 276,000 and 298,000 Americans will be dead from COVID-19 by Dec. 12.

Earlier this month, the CDC forecasted that the U.S. would hit at least 250,000 deaths by Thanksgiving weekend. That grim milestone was reached on Wednesday.

ABC News’ Anne Flaherty contributed to this report.

Nov 19, 12:05 pm
CDC recommends against Thanksgiving travel

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that Americans do not travel for Thanksgiving.

“We’re seeing exponential growth in cases,” CDC COVID-19 incident manager Dr. Henry Walke said. “The opportunity to translocate disease or infection from one part of the country to another leads to our recommendation to avoid travel at this time.”

United Airlines, American Airlines and Southwest all reported a spike in cancellations over the last week.

ABC News’ Stephanie Ebbs and Sam Sweeney contributed to this report.

Nov 19, 11:23 am
Los Angeles may see another stay-at-home order

With the pandemic intensifying in Los Angeles County, another stay-at-home order is possible in “the near future,” said Christina Ghaly, the county’s health department director, “if we can’t get the numbers down.”

“Earlier on in the pandemic, we were seeing the cases among people who had known risk factors: they were in congregate living facilities, skilled nursing facilities, they had a clear exposure in their workplace,” she told “GMA3: What You Need To Know.” “Now, the transmission is just simply much more widespread. And it seems to be due to the fact that people are mingling with others outside of their household, maybe are letting their guard down with their mask or not wearing the mask, and just not always following those basic public health practices.”

With Thanksgiving one week away, Ghaly warned, “A test can’t be used as a free pass for getting into a social gathering with people outside of your household.”

“The test result is really only accurate on the day you took the test,” she explained. “When it comes back a day later, you could have turned to be positive that day, or certainly the day after that or the day after that. So while the test is helpful and very critical part of helping us to curb the transmission of COVID when combined with other measures, by itself, it doesn’t necessarily do anything. So I would encourage people, please don’t use a test to go out with your friends on the weekend or to engage and intermingle with people that are outside of your household. “

Nov 19, 10:13 am
Fauci says his frustration ‘borders on pain’: ‘This is a public health crisis’

With over 11.5 million cases and more than 250,000 deaths in the U.S., the “flu doesn’t even come close,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told the USA Today editorial board.

Fauci said his “frustration” with those not taking the pandemic seriously “borders on pain.”

“Either people don’t want to look at the data or they look at the data and they say it’s fake. No, it isn’t fake,” Fauci said. “This is a global issue. I tell the people who deny or think that this is nothing, do you mean that every single country in Europe is doing the same thing, is making things up? They’re not.”

“Get rid of these ridiculous conspiracy theories and realize this is a public health crisis,” Fauci said. We don’t want to shut down as a nation because of the psychological and economic consequences of that. But we at least have got to be consistent in doing some fundamental things, so that’s what concerns me. We’re in a vulnerable position.”

ABC News’ Brian Hartman contributed to this report.

Nov 19, 11:16 am
Maryland football coach tests positive, Saturday’s game canceled

The University of Maryland’s head football coach, Michael Locksley, has tested positive for COVID-19, Maryland’s athletics department announced.

This Saturday’s game against Michigan State has been canceled and won’t be rescheduled.

Locksley, who tested positive Wednesday and is isolating at home, said in a statement, “I am feeling strong, with only minor symptoms.”

“I will continue to lead this program virtually and our game preparations for Indiana [set for Nov. 28] will begin immediately,” he said. “This virus is testing our players and coaches right now, but I have no doubt that we will emerge as a stronger unit for having gone through this together.”

Nov 19, 8:26 am
Africa’s case count tops two million

The total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Africa has surpassed two million.

As of Thursday morning, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 2,013,388 cases since the start of the pandemic, including 48,408 deaths. South Africa currently accounts for more than 37% of confirmed cases on the 54-nation continent and over 42% of the deaths.

The true number of COVID-19 infections across Africa is feared to be much higher, as testing and health care access remains a challenge in many areas. Nevertheless, the continent of 1.3 billion people has fared better than other regions amid the pandemic, possibly due swift actions taken early to curb transmission as well as decades of experience with emerging infectious diseases.

According to a weekly epidemiological report released Tuesday by the World Health Organization, the African region saw a 22% increase in new cases over the past seven days compared to the previous week, while death rates remained similar. South Africa, Kenya, Algeria and Ethiopia reported the largest number of new weekly cases in the region.

Nov 19, 7:40 am
Former CDC head warns nation could be mourning 300,000 deaths by end of year

As the United States mourns the loss of a quarter of a million people to the coronavirus pandemic, the former acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that the death toll could reach 300,000 by the end of the year.

“It is absolutely mind-numbing to think that we have lost that many people — each individual representing a friend, a family member, someone whose life had value,” Dr. Richard Besser, now the president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, told ABC News’ Robin Roberts in an interview Thursday on Good Morning America.

“One of the things that’s so true in public health is that it’s much easier for people to grasp the meaning when two or three people die in an accident than it is to truly understand what it means to lose 250,000 people,” he added. “I worry, Robin, that if we don’t change what we’re doing, we’re going to be having a conversation before the end of the year about 300,000 people.”

When pressed on that grim prediction, Besser replied, “We’re losing more than a thousand people a day, and the numbers are rising.”

Nov 19, 7:24 am
Intubated COVID-19 patient plays violin to thank his caregivers

A COVID-19 patient in the intensive care unit at a Utah hospital brought staff to tears when he played his violin for them to show his appreciation and help lift their spirts.

Grover Wilhelmsen, a retired orchestra teacher, was intubated and unable to talk, but he used pen and paper to communicate with one of the nurses taking care of him at Intermountain Healthcare’s McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden, Utah.

“Toward the middle of my shift he wrote, ‘You know, I really want to play here at the hospital. What do you think about my wife bringing in my violin and viola?'” Ciara Sase, a registered nurse at McKay-Dee Hospital, said in a press release from Intermountain Healthcare. “I said to him, ‘We’d love to hear you play, it would bring so much brightness and positivity into our environment.'”

Sase and her coworkers talked through the details of Wilhelmsen’s request and, after getting approval from doctors, the team agreed they could manage it as long as Sase stayed in the patient’s room to monitor him while he played.

Wilhelmsen’s wife of 47 years, Diana, brought his violin and viola into the hospital, along with some music books. Wilhelmsen then played church hymns and other songs including the Tennessee Waltz.

Because all ICU rooms have glass doors that are kept closed, Sase turned on her Vocera communication device so her colleagues on the other side could hear Wilhelmsen play.

“About a dozen caregivers gathered to watch and listen in the ICU,” she said. “It brought tears to my eyes. For all the staff to see a patient doing this while intubated was unbelievable.”

Matt Harper, another registered nurse at McKay-Dee Hospital, was one of the staff members who came to listen.

“It was honestly shocking to be there when he picked up the violin. It felt like I was in a dream,” Harper said in the press release. “I’m used to patients being miserable or sedated while being intubated, but Grover made an unfortunate situation into something positive. This was by far one of my favorite memories in the ICU that I’ve had. It was a small light in the darkness of COVID.”

Wilhelmsen played multiple times over the course of two days before he became too ill and required sedation. Sase said she would be in the room with him for about two hours each time he played.

“Afterward, I told him how thankful we were and how much it meant to us,” she said. “Before he took a turn for the worse, he continued to write things to me such as, ‘It’s the very least I could do,’ and ‘I do it for you guys because you all are sacrificing so much to take care of me.'”

After spending more than a month battling COVID-19 at McKay-Dee Hospital, Wilhelmsen was discharged from the ICU to a long-term acute care facility where he’s expected to recover from the disease.

“He truly is special and made a mark on all of us,” Sase said. “When I started to cry in the room after he was done playing, he wrote to me, ‘Quit crying. Just smile,’ and he smiled at me.”

Nov 19, 6:15 am
US Coast Guard vessel returns to base due to COVID-19 outbreak

A U.S. Coast Guard vessel on a counter-narcotics patrol was forced to return to its base in California on Wednesday, after 11 crew members tested positive for COVID-19.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton set out from its homeport in Alameda on Oct. 28 to begin a counter-narcotics patrol in the Eastern Pacific. Prior to departure, the crew was required to self-quarantine and test negative for COVID-19 twice, according to a press release from the Coast Guard.

Last week, several crew members began to develop mild COVID-19 symptoms and were administered rapid testing kits on board. All affected personnel and their close contacts were identified and quarantined, according to the press release.

Coast Guard medical staff conducted testing of the ship’s entire crew, who then went into quarantine. The infected crew members are receiving medical care, according to the press release.

“The crew’s health and safety is my highest priority,” Stratton’s commanding officer, Capt. Bob Little, said in a statement Wednesday. “Stratton has a highly resilient crew, always dedicated to the mission. Our mission today is to get healthy so we can continue our service to the nation.”

Nov 19, 5:51 am
Russia surpasses two million total cases

Russia’s COVID-19 case count surpassed the two million mark on Thursday morning, as the number of new infections and daily deaths hit record highs.

Russia confirmed 23,610 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, the country’s highest single-day tally since the pandemic began. Meanwhile, an all-time high of 463 fatalities from COVID-19 were registered nationwide over the past day, marking the third straight day that Russia set a new record for its daily death toll from the disease, according to the country’s coronavirus response headquarters.

Russia’s cumulative total now stands at 2,015,608 cases, including 34,850 deaths, according to the coronavirus response headquarters. It’s the second country in Europe and the fifth in the world to reach the grim milestone of two million total cases.

The Eastern European nation of 145 million people has the fifth-highest tally of COVID-19 cases in the world, behind only the United States, India, Brazil and France, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Nov 19, 5:03 am
US reports over 170K new cases

There were 170,161 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the United States on Tuesday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

It’s the sixth day in a row that the country has reported over 150,000 newly diagnosed infections. Tuesday’s count is slightly less than the all-time high of 177,224 on Nov. 13.

An additional 1,848 fatalities from COVID-19 were also registered nationwide on Tuesday, the highest since May 7 but still under a peak of 2,609 new deaths on April 15.

A total of 11,529,818 people in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 250,537 of them have died, according to Johns Hopkins. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C. and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.

Much of the country was under lockdown by the end of March as the first wave of pandemic hit. By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in the country’s cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up and crossing 100,000 for the first time on Nov. 4.

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